Although she was never saluted, never received a service ribbon, a promotion, nor honored at a Hail-and-Farewell, she was the reason all these things did happen to my dad. Even after being warned about dating a “Fly Boy,” my mom married my dad but only after she waited a year for him to return from Korea. She not only married my dad, she sacrificed her dreams for him, our family and his career.
I don’t remember a lot about when my dad left for Viet Nam, but I do remember my mom trying to make life for my brothers and I as normal as possible while he was gone. When he returned, we moved to Germany and that, I remember! I think my mom wanted our life in Germany to be as NOT normal, meaning different than life in the US, as possible. She wanted us to experience all that living in a foreign country could offer. Mom made sure we tried to speak the language, ate local food, attended cultural events and travelled as often as possible.
When we returned to the United States, dad went back to school for a graduate degree and it seemed we moved every summer for a few years. During our elementary school years, mom became our “first teacher.” Not knowing where we were going to school, mom insisted we spent time every summer preparing for the following school year by completing grade-level workbooks. Some of my fondest memories are my mom taking us to the library every Saturday morning with a large stack of books. She would let my brothers and I each choose a few books to check out for the week and the following Saturday we would return those books and check out more.
With all of our PCSs (Permanent Changes of Station), it was mom’s job to supervise the packing and unpacking. She had moving day down to a science. She had her clipboard ready when the moving truck pulled up and had told each of us kids our jobs for the day. I remember our jobs included putting stickers on boxes, labelling contents with a marker, and making sure the movers had water and snacks. When we arrived at our new base, she acted as the traffic cop making sure all the boxes got to the proper room. As an adult, I have moved quite a few times myself, but my moves never went as smoothly as when my mom was in charge.
In addition to orchestrating all the moves, doing all the shopping, cooking all the meals, cleaning the house and overseeing my brothers and my schoolwork, mom was also very involved in the Officers Wives’ Club in all the bases we were stationed. I remember when we were stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas, the general’s wife had my mom constantly involved in one project after another. Mom never said “No” when asked to help, especially if the project benefitted children.
My mom met and married my dad in 1954 between the time he joined the army and got out and when he went back in the army in 1955 after I was born (in Orlando, Florida). Shortly after a brother and sister coming along and moving to three more states Alabama, Texas, and South Dakota, Dad got orders for Munich, Germany. Before Mom and we kids could move there, though, Dad had to go ahead of us and spend six or seven months there until military housing became available. During that time period, Dad moved us to a small town called Apopka down near Orlando so that Mom could be near family. Mom didn’t drive and was more comfortable knowing she had family nearby who she could also rely on for transportation when she needed it.
Anyway, time went by and also the six or seven months and Mom and her three doorsteps (she referred to us when we were little as her three doorsteps) were on a military air transportation plane leaving Philadelphia across the Atlantic Ocean for Munich. Brother, sister, and I all three started elementary school in Munich. After Dad’s time was up in Munich, we (the whole family this time) left Bremerhaven, Germany on a military transport ship heading for Brooklyn, New York. Took nine days! I was eight years old then, so Mom was 28 (20 years difference in our ages).
From that time on, we moved all over the country and during that time Dad serving in Vietnam twice and Korea again (which incidentally brought Mom and us three kids back to Orlando each time). When he retired in 1973 after spending a year in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, we moved to where I am now…the Mississippi coast. I was only 17 then, and now looking back, I wonder how so much adventure could be packed into so little time. My dad made a lot of sacrifices, and my mom was behind him every step of the way. Her sacrifices were as great as his. Times were not easy for an enlisted man and his wife trying to stretch a dollar. So, just like all other military families, I suppose I could write a book about my childhood journey. Mom is gone now, so is Dad and also their other two “doorsteps”, but it is comfortable just knowing their legacies will always carry on.
My mother came from a tobacco farm in the hills of Kentucky with a High School education. She was a clean slate and had to learn everything. Her first meal to my Dad at Lackland was a hamburger, raw it turned out. My dad choked it down while she cried. He left and came back with a cook book.
She learned, moving, packing going overseas, having us kids. However she became my Superhero at Offutt. Dad had left to go to Germany to find us housing for our next PCS so she and my younger brother and I were staying in a small cheap apartment that had a pool. I invited my friends from Wherry housing, two brothers and my best friend a Black teenager. We changed into our swim suits and jumped in. A young girl about our age leaped out and ran off.
Later that evening the manager came by and told me that all guests had to be approved in advance. I was puzzled, not so my mother, rising up like a grizzly protecting her cubs she stalked over to the manager and told him in no uncertain terms that we were going to invite whoever we wanted be they black, brown, or purple! Furthermore if he tried to pull any of this racist crap on us she’d be happy to call the Base Legal Office, as she picked up the phone, She said, “I’d be happy to put not only this run-down apartment off limits but every property the owner has be it housing, entertainment, or retail”. “So what will it be?” As she brandished the phone. The manager apologized and backed away. My friends and I enjoyed the pool almost every day.
The final steps in joining my Dad overseas strained my superhero. She had to sell the car, arrange for us to get to the airport, send the rest of our stuff overseas. My Dad has arranged our flight, but God laughs at well-made plans.
The flight from Omaha to Chicago was fine. However, there was a strike in London so our flight to Philly and then to London and Frankfurt was out. The help desk arranged us to fly Lufthansa from New York to Frankfurt, and we had to change airports in NY. My mother, clearly at the end of her rope turned to me and cried, “John, What’s a Lufthansa!!” She had visions of WWI biplanes. I explained what it was, gathered up Davey, and our luggage and followed her. We arrived at JFK late, she sent me off on a food run, I found one hot dog stand, bought his last two hot dogs and predictably she went without, we two boys inhaled the dogs. The plane ride was yet more stress for her, we all were separated.
They woke us up for breakfast, my brother is a terrible traveler, worse at waking up, after being fed OJ, he promptly threw up all over the man and the empty seat next to him. As it was a full flight the gentleman, a well-dressed German was stuck smelling OJ and hot dog My mom silently chuckled that she wasn’t next to Davey for once.
Surprisingly, Dad was there waiting for us despite the air mixup.
As Dad drove us to our new house on the autobahn, we just stared, seriously jet-lagged. Once home, he proudly showed off our washer and drier, after informing that the drainage tube needed to go into the bathtub, he showed mom his large pile of dirty clothes and headed out to work. Davey hit the sack, Mom started on Dad’s laundry, putting the hose in the bathtub, I tried to get my room in order. Soon we heard a frenzied banging on our door, both Mom and I rushed to it only to find ourselves wading in dirty water. The hose had of course flipped out of the bathtub without being secured, something my Dad forgot to mention. Our Landlord was screaming “Was ist los!” Apparently he was in the bathroom when the water started dripping on his head.
Not the best first meeting for my Mom but she managed, like always, she managed.
John Paul Jones
My Mother, Bettie, was a born performer. She loved word-play, and had a “saying” for almost every issue. Her favorite was “If it is not fun for everyone, it is not fun.”
Family lore has her sitting at her grandfather’s knee as he recited “I had But Fifty Cents.” Young Bettie soon memorized all 52 lines. As a senior in high school, she was cast as “Aunt Milly” in a three-act comedy.
That same year she competed in a national oratorical contest sponsored by the American Legion. In addition to a 10-12 minute prepared oration, contestants had to field questions and could not use notes. Headlines in the Jeffersonville, Indiana newspaper reported that “Miss Gibson won over the successful contestants in other towns in the county.” An estimated 1,500 people were in the audience.
Fast forward to 1953, Bettie, her career Air Force husband Rex and three kids arrived at Forbes Air Force Base near Topeka, Kansas. Rex was anticipating a promotion to Major rank, and officers’ wives were expected to participate in on-base activities. As she did with every new venture, Mother brought energy, creativity and her unique sense of humor to the task. She also revived her high school interests in debate and performance when she joined Forbes Femmes Forum, a Toastmasters-like group.
As I was working on this piece, it struck me that my mother’s great granddaughter, Nadia, must have inherited Mother’s memory genes and love of performing. Eleven-year-old Nadia has been performing on-stage since she was six. She has worked with a travelling troupe from Missoula, Montana, and also acts with a local group, “A Theatre for Children.”
My mother would have had fun reciting poetry with Nadia. Unfortunately, they never met. My parents died two years before Nadia was born.
I could have used some of Mother’s performance genes instead of spending most of my professional career avoiding standing in front of groups. One of Mother’s traits I did inherit is “compulsive clipping.” When I cleaned out her desk after she died of Alzheimer’s disease, I found little pieces of newspaper clippings and scribbles on bits of paper. I can’t read the Sunday paper without scissors at hand to snip some tidbit I feel I might need some day.
Here are just a few of Mother’s clippings:
“Ice cream doesn’t put on weight right away – it takes a month of sundaes.”
“A candle loses none of its light by lighting another candle.”
Exercises that do no good: spinning your wheels, passing the buck, pushing your luck, stretching the truth, running amok.
Have fun with this one:
Mother rhymed our names. My sister’s name was easy, as was mine: “Jenny Penny” and “Candy Dandy.” My brother Christopher was more of a challenge: He ended up with “Mistopher Christopher”. Soon she was calling our father, Rex, “Rexey-by-hexy”.
Mother even talked in rhyme. For example “We had fun and no harm done.” And for me, “We both have wonderful husbands; they have wonderful wives. We’ll all be happy for the rest of our lives.”
One of Mother’s favorite poems was Sir Walter Scott’s tragic “Young Lockinvar.” Even when she first started showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease, she could still recite most of this poem that had been in her head for over 50 years.
As her Alzheimer’s progressed and she was hospitalized with pneumonia, she started introducing herself as “Bettie Spaghetti” soon followed by “And don’t you forgetti.”
I never will, Mother.
–Candace George Thompson
By Circe Olson Woessner
It is day three of teleworking from home, and day bazillion in the pre-or apocalyptic reality we find ourselves in. “Social distancing” is a new word that everyone knows and practices – – unless you’ve taken a devil-may-care attitude about this whole “hoax disease.” As we stay at home, we shake our heads at the images of young people frolicking on the beaches or having parties. Nero plays the violin as Rome burns. Look at Italy! Look at Italy!
A lot of people are scared and acting out – – I have heard of fights right here in our local supermarket—Really? Come on, for Pete’s sake! People are hording supplies and stocking up on ammo in “case of wide-spread panic.”
False information and far-fetched conspiracy theory opinions are being shared on social media as the gospel truth. People are sending along chain messages, and offering advice on really weird ways to prevent getting sick. Forwarded emails from unknown “experts” are adding to the chaos. Memes and weird jokes are byproducts of how some people react to stress—and some of them are really, really funny – – unless you have someone who is elderly in your family, or who is sick, or someone who has, God forbid, recently died from COVID-19.
What messages are we sending to our children, who look for us to be calm in a time of crisis? What are we telling the elderly or immune compromised? Are we modeling desired behavior?
If someone coughs, or sneezes, we glare at them – – why are you doing that– are you sick? At the supermarket, we scan other people, looking for signs of disease on them. Why are you coming up my aisle? Wait till I’m done here! Shoppers are furtive, dashing through the aisles grabbing things as if it’s the end of the world.
Maybe it is.
Life as we know it has changed over the past few weeks. Our dog has taken to sleeping with us, something forbidden up until a few weeks ago when he decided he preferred our bed to his. We laughed nervously saying, “well if something happens to us, at least he can eat us from the comfort of the bed.” Not very funny, but humor has taken an extremely dark turn these days…
Our society is self-isolated (another new word that everyone knows) and our workdays are very different than they were even a week ago. My extended family is keeping running shopping lists, knowing that it will be very hard to find the items we want, and while we will not succumb to hoarding, we understand that food shopping has become a scavenger hunt.
I feel I’m living in one of those science fiction movies or a really bad dream I can’t wake up from. This is no way to live. However; think of the alternative! Several months ago, this was a rhetorical question, but now, the alternative is hitting closer to home. And it’s not so hypothetical.
… Just stop….breathe…Live in this particular moment. Take stock in your blessings right now.
In New Mexico the sun is shining, the trees are beginning to bud, and if you can slow your racing heartbeat, you can hear the birds sing. if you’re like me, and live near I-40, you can hear the hum of the interstate, of trucks bringing needed supplies to communities all across this country. The National Guard is setting up hospital tents; Airmen are stocking shelves at the Kirtland Air Force Base Commissary. Babies are being born; people are getting married. Life is still going on.
Over and over, I am drawn to the quote attributed to Mr. Rogers after 911. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
And it’s very true. The military is calling up retired healthcare workers to join the fight against Covid-19. Federal employees are teleworking, ensuring that the nation doesn’t grind to a halt. Emergency responders and military are rotating personnel to ensure there are enough healthy team members to respond to a national emergency or health crisis.
Stores are trying to accommodate the massive amount of shoppers panic buying, and setting up designated shopping times for people who are vulnerable. Utility companies are suspending disconnections and overdue accounts. Workers are pulling longer shifts to accommodate the requirements needed to get us through this crisis.
Impromptu support groups are starting on Facebook. Younger people are offering to run errands for older people. People are passing along local resources and information on store inventories and discounted places.
Neighbors are checking in on their neighbors; recently unemployed people are offering childcare services so that frontline staff who have to work, can get to their jobs at hospitals, supermarkets, emergency response centers, etc.
Even while under lockdown, the human spirit is strong. Individuals – – common, everyday people – – are lifting the spirits of their fellow human being by leading them exercise sessions as they watch from balconies. A military spouse in Germany serenaded her fellow base dwellers with her own funny versions of Andrew Lloyd Webber hits. A friend is reading poetry selections on Skype. Symphonies and theater companies are performing concerts or plays and streaming them free to the public. Companies are offering free educational products to parents who suddenly find themselves homeschooling their kids. (I tried to homeschool my son when he was nine and it didn’t end well for either of us– so hats off to every homeschool parent out there now trying to figure it out!) I’ve joined an online writer’s group with complete strangers from all over the world, and we are enjoying the creative company.
Last night, I watched a short YouTube video called “Isolated St. Patrick’s Day Parade” where people around the world, through the miracle of technology, were able to play one song from their homes—in Spain , the US, Ireland, the UK and Australia– in harmony and in sync. It was lovely and appropriately wonderful for a very unusual St. Patrick’s Day.
When this is all said and done, I’m hoping we have learned lessons as a society and can make our world safer, friendlier and better.
I never signed up to be dealing with COVID-19, but since I must, I have choices: I can panic and be mean and small, or I can take this lemon that I was given and make a big, beautiful meringue pie.
I choose the pie.
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PLEASE SHARE, WE NEED 100 PREPAID ORDERS WITHIN 2 WEEKS FOR DELIVERY IN APRIL, CELEBRATING MONTH OF THE MILITARY CHILD, Affectionately known as “BRATS”!
LOWEST PRICE AVAILABLE IS PRE- RELEASE PREPAID ORDERS.
2020 5TH ANNIVERSARY
LIMITED EDITION WITH SERIAL #s
USA MILITARY BRATS SEAL
CHALLENGE COIN ORDERS ARE COMING IN!
WE NEED A UNITED 100 ORDERS TO SUBMIT TO ENSURE DELIVERY BY APRIL! THIS $35 PRICE IS THE LOWEST PRICE (COST) FOR CREATING THE 5TH ANNIVERSARY COIN AND SHIPPING TO YOU. THERE IS NO PROFIT OR MARKUP ON THE FIRST 100 ORDERS! COST & SHIPPING AT $35!
BRAT ID/Military Brats Seal” is taking orders for this limited edition coin.
Once we have 100 prepaid orders, we will submit the order for the first coins to be minted in the USA and available for release in April, the month of the Military Child affectionately known as BRATS!
The 5th Anniversary Military Brats Joint Services Challenge Coin is a limited edition serial numbered series. The 2015 Military Brats Seal coin pin set sold out at 250 serial#s.
2020 Prepaid orders can be made via paypal:
Send Money to Friend or questions:
(Contact me on private message and I can send you an invoice to be paid directly through messenger/paypal)
by personal check $35 sent to:
TO: Terrill Major
NOTE: Military Brat Seal
3211 Bayshore SQ,
Pensacola, Fl 32507
Once again we will release upon initial 100 prepaid orders, and more by the demand between now and April.
We will collect pre-payments, and once we have 100 orders in hand, we can submit the first order for Aprils release. The sooner we receive the first 100 prepaid orders the sooner we can submit the order to the mint for (planning 6-8 weeks) April release, Month of the Military child, affectionately known as BRATS.
Limited Edition Lowest Cost Prepaid
Order Price of $35 on first 100 Coins purchased. Costs increase in value as additional orders are released.
In 2015, Brat ID released their first Collector matching Challenge Coin & Pin Set at $34.95 first release, with final costs at $49.95.
UNITED * STATES * OF * AMERICA
* MILITARY * BRATS * SEAL *
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA MILITARY BRATS SEAL symbolizes the unification of all Military Children; past present and future. The BRATS seal fully recognizes and encompasses a Military Child’s character growing up within the Military environment within a subculture all their own.
DESCRIPTION OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY BRATS SEAL:
2020 Challenge Coin, 1.75″, 3D High relief solid aged bronze with Red, White Blue enamel trim. Limited Edition release with serial numbers.
– Around the deep blue encircling outside band of the Seal, the inscription boldly reads “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA MILITARY BRATS SEAL”.
This signifies the unified cultural heritage of all military children recognized by those who serve and have affectionately embraced and lovingly bestowed upon them their unique name as BRATS.
– Between these distinctive words are 7 solid Stars representing the seven branches of Military Services; Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force and the new Space Force and the Department of Defense which all Military BRATS are family members of and grow up embracing the transient Military culture and values of those who serve both domestically and abroad.
– In the center background of the Coin is our Nations Flag, Old Glory, with golden cording encircling and embracing our flag signifying the unification of our country through the glory of God, Country and Family.
– The American flag stripes signifies our country’s unification with the original 13 colonies Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia with the additional 37 states united as one with a total of 50 stars.
– On the center of the coin is our Military BRATS Seal displayed by our Nations emblem of strength and freedom, the American Bald Eagle.
– The Eagle bears on its breast a shield of thirteen pieces Argent and Gules, a chief boldly blazoned “BRATS” representing a unified cultural heritage uniquely their own as embraced by military children.
– The shield is supported solely by the American Eagle recognizing military children as BRATS, the first line of support to those who serve in the United States of America Military Services.
– The Globe signifies the United States Military Brats homes and travels are all over the world.
– The Dandelion is the official flower of all Military Children; BRATS. Below the American Eagle, is a Dandelion chain wreath; denoting the unified strength of Military BRATS from all branches of the services.
– The American Eagle carries in its claws the Dandelion seeds representing the life of children of Military Service-Members as BRATS; who display their strength and tenacity as they bloom wherever they travel or find themselves planted by the needs of the military services.
– The Dandelion Seeds to the right of the Eagle represents blooms with a single seeds floating away; as BRATS moving away, with their military sponsor as their fellow BRATS remain jointly, or move elsewhere in a different direction as displayed on the left side of the Eagle.
– The Eagle holds in its beak a scroll inscribed “Pluribus Locis Nostrum”, which is Latin meaning “Many Places Are Home” for all the locations a BRAT has embraced as their home growing up as a military child from birth to the year they aged out, usually between 18-23 years old, however, continue to hold dearly the memories only a BRAT experiences growing up within the Military subculture, uniquely their own.